Showing posts with label Pelorous Bridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pelorous Bridge. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Gateway to the Richmond Ranges

A look at the facilities available at the Pelorous Bridge camp-ground

One of the iconic spots you might visit while tramping in New Zealand is Pelorous Bridge, roughly 20 kms north of Havelock in Marlborough.

There is (obviously) a bridge at Pelorous but there is also a camp-ground you might need to stay in as Pelorous Bridge is the gateway to the Richmond Ranges, one of the more remote tramping areas within the country. This is arguably the most difficult section of the Te Araroa Trail.


Pelorous Bridge on SH6 between Havelock and Nelson

Map: Pelorous Bridge and the approaches from Daltons Track and Maungatapu Road


I stopped by recently on the way to Nelson and thought a few photos of the facilities might be useful to those of you planning a visit to the Richmond Ranges.

Pelorous Bridge Reserve, Marlborough

There have been four bridges over the Pelorous River between Havelock and Nelson, the current bridge was built in the 1950's and is still going strong. There has also been a camp-ground in this scenic reserve for over 100 years now, this is the last taste of civilisation before starting the 7-10 day crossing of the Richmond Ranges.


Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve:from the northern terminus

There is a sizeable car park at Pelorous Bridge it is well sign posted from both directions so it is impossible to miss. There are public toilets and fresh water available near the car park as well as the DOC office and a small cafe I will talk about below.


Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: the car-park off SH6

The Pelorous Bridge cafe and DOC office

There is a handy DOC information kiosk showing the surrounding area located on an island in the middle of the parking area. It has details of all the walks and facilities available here.


Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: map of the scenic reserve and information


Map: Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: detail of the reserve

As you can see there are a lot of nice bush walks in and around the bridge area, Te Araroa trekkers will approach the bridge using Daltons Track or Maungatapu Road. The camp grounds are scattered around Kahikatea Flat for the most part with a picnic area where the lower camp-site used to occupy. 

The Pelorous Bridge Cafe

There has been a cafe at Pelorous Bridge since I was a child, I remember stopping here on occasion for a swim in the river and an ice cream while transiting between Blenheim and Nelson.


Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: directions to facilities
The cafe building is readily visible as you enter the parking area, the building contains the DOC camp ground office and the attached cafe.

The Pelorous Bridge Cafe, Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: map of the area near the cafe
The ownership of the cafe has recently changed hands (2017), the new owners have carried out a lot of renovations and have improved the food on offer immensely. I had a quick peruse of the wares and they looked top quality and I assume really delicious. 

There is no camp shop at the cafe as in older times, what they sell is your usual cafe fare: cabinet food (pies, sandwiches, rolls, cakes and slices) and a small menu of fresh cooked meals. They also sell ice creams, cold drinks, water and good coffee if you need a fix.

View into the Pelorous Bridge Cafe

There are some nice outdoor seating areas if you want to enjoy your repast el fresco, one area is covered and the other consists of outdoor seats and picnic tables.

Pelorous Bridge Cafe: outdoor seating area



Pelorous Bridge Cafe:the bush comes right up to the door

If you are planning to stay in the camp ground you need to check in with the DOC office co-located with the cafe.

  The Kahikatea Flat camp-ground


The Department of Conservation camp ground is located at Kahikatea Flats which is accessible using a short road way next to the cafe building. It looks like a really nice area and has a wide grassy clearing with about 30 established camp-sites. Over the busy summer period (November-April) the sites need to be booked, it would probably be a good idea to call the camp ground office before you arrive

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Kahikatea Flat camp ground


Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Kahikatea Flat camp ground sign

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Kahikatea Flat camp ground

There are a number of short and medium length tracks which start right next to the camp sites, they range from 30 minutes right up to a four hour tramp. 


Some of the tracks accessible from Kahikatea Flat, Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve

It is a very nice looking area, I camped here once in the early 1990's while on the way to Nelson for a summer holiday and the camp-ground is very busy at that time of the year.

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Kahikatea Flat camp ground

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Kahikatea Flat camp ground

There is a new and nicely appointed cooking shelter/toilet block located at the camp-ground.
 It looked like it would hold about 30 odd people at one time. I would imagine campers spend a bit of time hanging out in the shelter while they are here.


Camp shelter at Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: Kahikatea Flat camp ground


The shelter at Kahikatea Flat camp ground: Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: warm water showers

The shelter at Kahikatea Flat camp ground: Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve


The shelter has fresh drinking water inside the shelter and coin feed warm water showers around the back of the building. The shelter also has a couple of gas cook tops with a small selection of pots and pans you can use. 


Inside the Kahikatea Flat camp shelter at Pelorous Bridge

Inside the Kahikatea Flat camp shelter at Pelorous Bridge


Because this is the beginning/end of the Richmond Ranges there is a standard DOC intentions book in the shelter, I had a look and about 80% of the entries are from TA hikers passing through. I recognised a few names from the 2017/18 season...


The DOC intentions book in the Kahikatea camp-ground

In the depth of summer the Pelorous River is a very nice place to swim, the river emerges from native forest so it is not contaminated. There are a number of deep pools both above and below the main bridge.

The Pelorous River, next to the Kahikatea Flat camp-ground

The Pelorous River, next to the Kahikatea Flat camp-ground

The water is often warm as it travels most of the way through the Richmond Ranges warming up as it descends to the bridge area. I have been in the water here and it was lovely on a hot summers day.

Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve: downstream of the bridge


Next time you are travelling between Blenheim and Nelson why not stop by for coffee and an bite to eat and have a walk along one of the many tracks.